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The Marshmallow Test – The Payoff of Delayed Gratification


If you’ve never heard of the marshmallow test, it’s worth knowing about.

From Wikipedia:

The Stanford marshmallow experiment was a series of studies on delayed gratification in the late 1960s and early 1970s led by psychologist Walter Mischel, then a professor at Stanford University. In these studies, a child was offered a choice between one small reward (a marshmallow) provided immediately or two small rewards (i.e., a larger later reward) if they waited for a short period, approximately 15 minutes, during which the tester left the room and then returned.

In follow-up studies, years later, the researchers found that those children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes, as measured by SAT scores, educational attainment, body mass index (BMI), and other life measures.

It’s a simple choice in this experiment, “one marshmallow now or two later?”

That is a variation of the same choice that each of us make every single day when it comes to a multitude of decisions in our lives.

Indulge in the thing right in front of us or make a disciplined choice now and receive more blessings later on?

In Take the Stairs we called this dynamic the Paradox Principle of Sacrifice.

Which simply stated is this: Easy short term choices lead to difficult long term consequences.

Meanwhile, difficult short term choices lead to better long term consequences.

That’s the payoff of self-discipline.

And self-control is the brother of self-discipline.

If self-discipline is doing things you know you should be doing even when you don’t feel like doing them.

Then self-control is not doing things you know you shouldn’t be doing.

But both of them have the same result: long term rewards.

Long term gain.

Long term satisfaction.

Long term happiness.

Doing the right thing in the short term is what creates the better life in the long run.

We often think of these things as “sacrifices” but they aren’t sacrifices.

A sacrifice is giving something up that you never get back.

Good decisions aren’t sacrifices at all.

Good decisions are short term down payments on rich future blessings.

Of course, this idea is nothing new.

Hebrews 12:11 said it this way 2000 years ago:

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time. Yet it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

Think about that: “a harvest of righteousness and peace…”

Isn’t that what you want?

A harvest of righteousness and peace.

An abundance of blessings, good fortune, and calm faith.

A life filled with joy and free from stress.

Those things are available for your future.

They are available by the choices you make today.

They are available by doing the things now that you know you should be doing even when you don’t feel like doing them.

And by not doing things you know you shouldn’t be doing.

They are available through a little self-discipline and self-control expanded consistently.

In every area of your life, sow today for your harvest tomorrow.

Don’t just work hard. Do the hard work.


Working hard is not the key to success; it’s merely the price of admission. 

Hard work alone isn’t enough to bring you everything you want. 

Because if you’re working hard at the wrong things then they won’t take you to where you want to go. 

You have to work hard at the right things if you want to achieve your desired destination. 

Which introduces a second element to the equation. 

Because not only do you have to work hard, you also have to work hard at the right things. 

So what are the right things?

 Actually it’s usually pretty simple to identify them. 

Typically the right things, the best things, the most significant things you can do to achieve your goal are often the things you know need to be done but you most don’t want to do. 

They are the things that nobody likes to do. 

If you’re trying to build muscle, it means doing pull ups or leg day. 

If you’re trying to lose weight, it means cutting your alcohol, carbs, or sugar intake. 

If you’re in sales, it is prospecting. 

If you’re trying to get out of debt, it’s making and following a budget.  

In other words, it’s not enough to just work hard.  

You have to do the hard work. 

You have to do the things you don’t want to do. 

You have to do the things that other people aren’t willing to do. 

You have to do the things that you know are good for you, but they are hard. 

You don’t do them because the goal is to make life as hard as possible. 

Quite the contrary, you do them because they ultimately make life easier.

But that path is predicated on the unpopular truth that the shortest most guaranteed path to a more productive life is to do the hardest parts of things as soon as possible!

You don’t just work hard. You do the hard work. 

And if you that… 

If you work hard…

And you also do the hard work…

Then you will start to find that eventually things get easier and easier. 

What Do You Really Believe?


It doesn’t much matter what we say we believe, our real beliefs are revealed by how we act.

We can lie with our words but we cannot lie with our actions. 

You don’t even have to tell people what you believe, because you can show them. 

And people watch what we do much more than they listen to what we say. 

So what do your actions tell people about who you are and what you believe?

And how congruent are the things you say you believe in alignment with the things you actually do?

It is a moment of truth, a sobering reality check, and a sometimes uneasy accountability when we are asked to reconcile what we say and what we do. 

In fact, my pastor once told me that if you want to know what someone really believes in, don’t even bother asking them. 

All you have to do is look at their calendar and their checkbook, because what we spend our time and our money on is what we believe in the most.

Servant Selling Salesperson Oath

servant selling salesperson oath

 My intuition tells me that for salespeople to survive in the future, more and more the market is not just going to prefer – but demand that they become servant sellers.

Perhaps we should all just go ahead and formally declare that we are one by taking an oath such as this.

What do you think? Anything you would add? Leave a comment below.

I am a Servant Salesperson
I never take advantage of people
I am a Servant Salesperson
I do not sell people things they don’t need
I am a Servant Salesperson
I never lie to or mislead customers
I am a Servant Salesperson
I am not timid about the value of what I provide but I do not pressure people
I am a Servant Salesperson
I trust that sooner or later I always get paid for how hard I work
I am a Servant Salesperson
I help people make decisions about what is best for them
I am a Servant Salesperson
I always over deliver
I am a Servant Salesperson
My sale isn’t complete until my offering has created actual improved results for my client
I am a Servant Salesperson
I work harder than everyone else
I am a Servant Salesperson
I teach people to overcome their fears
I am a Servant Salesperson
I am an expert in my field
I am a Servant Salesperson
I don’t allow people the useless indulgence of procrastination
I am a Servant Salesperson
I am bold, decisive, energetic and enthusiastic
I am a Servant Salesperson
I generate an abundance of leads and referrals
I am a Servant Salesperson
I always do the right thing and not the easy thing
I am a Servant Salesperson
I maintain and build long term relationships with my clients
I am a Servant Salesperson
I always offer fair and consistent pricing
I am a Servant Salesperson
I only sell products I am absolutely convicted on
I am a Servant Salesperson
I do not get nervous because my heart is always on service
I am a Servant Salesperson
I am honest
I am trustworthy
I am hardworking
I am powerful
I am unique
I am rare
I care
I serve
I believe in people
I believe in myself
I am a Servant Salesperson

Johnny Quinn: When Your Dreams Fall Apart – Episode 149 of The Action Catalyst Podcast

When Your

Johnny Quinn is a professional speaker, former professional football player and  United States Olympian in the sport of bobsled. He spent time with the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, Green Bay Packers and Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL, and competed in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Johnny travels the globe to inspire audiences by delivering thought-provoking and action-packed messages to businesses, schools and organizations. He is also the founder of The Athlete Watch, an online pro-active leadership course that helps student-athletes and their families search for scholarships.

Show Highlights:

  • What actions do you take in the face of broken dreams? @Rory_Vaden
  • Hearing someone tell me ‘I believe in you’ allowed me to believe I was going to come back even stronger. @JohnnyQuinnUSA
  • The new Journey to become a U.S Olympian allowed me to dream again – it set in motion a new dream. @JohnnyQuinnUSA
  • We are told ‘make your dream come true’ as if you’re only allowed to have one dream. @Rory_Vaden
  • During the Sochi Olympics, Johnny got stuck in my Olympic Village bathroom and had to break down the door. @JohnnyQuinnUSA
  • The attitude of ‘Never Give Up’ carried me from NFL to Olympic Bobsledding @JohnnyQuinnUSA
  • When the plan you laid out is broken, the way you respond in those moments matter so much. @Rory_Vaden
  • Take the Stairs – Perspective Principal of faith is my favorite because it covers how to respond when things go wrong. @Rory_Vaden
  • A huge part of becoming successful is having a plan for dealing with failure. @Rory_Vaden
  • 5 choices to dream big again in the midst of a broken dream:
    1. Think Long Term –  Complete the untold Story about how this seemingly negative event actually protected you from something worse. @Rory_Vaden
    2. Create the possibility that something better awaits. @Rory_Vaden
    3. Realize that everything you are going through is preparing you for the person you someday need to be. @Rory_Vaden
    4. Realize God is powerful enough that he could have had it go the other way. @Rory_Vaden
    5. John 15:5 ‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.’ @Rory_Vaden

To learn more about Johnny, Click Here!

The Action Catalyst show is a weekly podcast that Rory Vaden of Southwestern Consulting™ hosts every Wednesday, which is regularly in the Top 25 of Business News Podcasts and has listeners from all around the world. The show shares “insights and inspiration to help you take action”. Each week Rory shares ideas on how to increase your self-discipline and make better use of your time to help you achieve your goals in life. He also interviews one very special expert guest and thought leader every week. Subscribe on iTunes and please leave a rating and review!

Real Freedom: Your Deepest Darkest Secrets Revealed


What if someone audited your life?

What if they saw every website you had ever been to?

Saw every tax document you ever prepared?

Viewed every email or text you’d ever sent?

Or listened to every conversation you’d ever had? (Including those conversations that were in your own head)

Would you be proud?

Would you be honored?

Would you be ok with your spouse seeing them?

Your kids seeing them?

Your colleagues seeing them?

Your friends seeing them?

Would you be okay with them being splashed across the front page of every major newspaper and being the topic of discussion of every major talk show?

For most of us, it’s a bit scary to think about someone auditing our life.

And yet most of the things we would be scared to have people find out about us are things that felt good in the short term.

They were indulgences.

They were moments where we did what ever we wanted, said what ever our emotions led us to, or thought vengefully without fear of repercussion.

So why is it then that those things that “felt so good” in the short term would be the things that we would be most ashamed, humiliated, and embarrassed about in the long term?

Maybe it’s because those things are not real pleasures.

Maybe it’s because those things are not true sustainable sources of happiness.

Maybe it’s because those things are lying deceptions of the world.

And the reality is that it’s the things we think are hard…

It’s the things we think are difficult…

It’s the things we think are sacrifices…

That aren’t really sacrifices at all.

They are just short term down payments on rich future blessings.

And the freedom we seek…

The pleasure we seek…

The peace we seek….

Is not the result of quiet, hidden, secretive indulgences.

But rather the open, unashamed, unapologetic invitation to audit our entire life.

It is the confidence of knowing that there is nothing to hide.

It is the real freedom that comes from the scrutiny of transparency.